Like many children waiting for families in China, Shane was born with a cleft lip and palate. But it wasn’t long before his clefts were surgically repaired, and now, all he has to show for it are two small scars above his lip.
When it comes to living life like any other kid, Shane is not affected by his repaired cleft lip and palate. His speech and pronunciation are clear and he isn’t expected to need any further treatments or surgeries!
Amy Castle, Holt’s administrative social worker for the China program, recently visited a new orphanage partner for Holt in China. Very few children at this orphanage have joined families through international adoption, and many of them are older and some have manageable special needs. Below, Amy shares about her experience meeting these children, including seven for whom we urgently need to find families!
I visited this orphanage in March 2017 to prepare a few older children that Holt had matched with families for their adoptions. I had a very good impression of this orphanage from the beginning of my day there. The administrative staff seemed to know the children well and they were so pleased I wanted to visit. The orphanage director allowed us to use her office to video chat with the children’s families in the U.S., and she was also very interested in the older child adoption preparation books I brought with me. But the most excited I saw her was when we presented a child with his family’s photo album. This was the first time this child learned he had a family, and I remember the sweet look in her eyes as they flipped through the album together. She spoke to him while he looked at the photos, and later my translator told me what she was saying: “Look, here are your new parents! They look so nice! And this will be your new room! Aren’t you excited?” You could see the excitement on the child’s face and it was a sweet moment to witness. As my time in the orphanage concluded, the director said to me, through a translator, that she was so happy these older children have families. She has watched these children grow up from the time they entered the orphanage as infants, and now at 13 years old they will finally have families of their own. I left the orphanage feeling so hopeful for the other children living there, that we would be able to find families for them as well. I know the orphanage staff has that same hope, too.
These children need families!
Below are eight children at that orphanage who are getting older and closer to losing their chance at being adopted. They have watched many of their friends go home to adoptive families in China and are starting to get discouraged. Could you or someone you know be the right family for these children?
NOAH — Born Aug 26, 2009
Noah is deaf and received a cochlear implant in 2013. He became happier and more active after the procedure, and he has been attending a language training school for children with cochlear implants. Noah is described as a smart boy who adapted well to his new school. He gets along well with others. Noah very much wants to have a home with his own parents and siblings. Enjoy his photo — he lost a tooth!
Tomas is described as a patient boy who likes to help others. No special needs are reported in his file. Tomas likes music and sports, especially soccer. He came to the orphanage as a baby, and in 2010 he went to live at a foster care facility. This facility can be difficult to get information from. We do know, however, that Tomas gets along well with his foster family. A video is on file!
Aubree gets along well with the other children and likes to play with others. She had surgery for cleft lip and palate in 2010. Her health and physical development are reported to be good. Aubree attends school, where she enjoys English class and painting. She hopes to have a family with a brother or sister who she could help care for.
Charleston had surgery for cleft lip and palate and he has intermittent exotropia. He is described as a nice boy who is good at studying. He received full marks in math this semester! Charleston also likes sports and running. He gets along well with the other kids in his care center. Charleston hopes for a family of his own, and would like siblings to play with.
Nyomi is described as a lovely and sweet girl. She came into care when she was about two months old and had surgery for congenital heart disease (Tetralogy of Fallot) in 2010. Nyomi is well liked by her caregivers and teachers. She likes to help take care of the younger children in the orphanage and gets along well with other kids. She would like to have a family to live and play with.
Shane has cleft lip and palate, which have been surgically repaired. His pronunciation is clear and no further treatments are expected for his cleft. He is now a healthy 11-year-old boy who longs to have a family with siblings one day. Shane’s personality is described as open, big-hearted, curious and energetic. He lives in the orphanage and attends a public school, where he earns average grades. He gets along well with other children and has five best friends who he likes to hang out with. He is curious and observant, paying attention to details and new things. He is a talented painter and is learning martial arts– please watch his video!
Sam is an active boy who likes sports and running. He is missing a toe and his development may be a bit delayed. He attends middle school, and he likes reading books and playing games like Chinese checkers and chess. His best friend was adopted recently and he hopes someday a family will come for him also. He would like to teach his adoptive family to speak Chinese. Sam urgently needs a family to come forward for him before he ages out of the adoption process on his 14th birthday.
Braxton has had surgery for congenital heart disease and crossed eyes. He came to the orphanage as a baby and went to a foster care facility in 2010, where he gets along well with his foster family. This facility can be difficult to get information from. Described as a shy and patient boy, Braxton is good at studying and likes English and calligraphy. Braxton urgently needs a family to bring him home before he ages out of the adoption process on his 14th birthday.
On a recent trip to China, Holt social worker Amy Castle fell in love with an 11-year-old named Shane. Her heart broke for him as he witnessed his other friends at the orphanage prepare to meet their adoptive families and she couldn’t help but wonder, “When will it be Shane’s turn?” Continue reading “Shane Needs a Family!”
Adoption is something we always considered we would do… some day.
After several years of trying to have our own biological child, we realized adoption was going to be our next step. Adam and I went to several different adoption orientations. At first, we were planning to adopt a child domestically in the U.S., since the rumor was that it would take 2-5 years to bring home a child through international adoption.
Then one evening, at yet another adoption meeting, the social worker mentioned that the China adoption process is typically quicker than other country programs. I am half Chinese, and adoption from China was a no-brainer. Adam and I looked at each other and — surprise! — we both knew that this was the way we were going.
Not trusting all of the signs right away, we still vacillated for a while, between domestic infant and China adoption. We did know from day one that unlike the majority of families adopting internationally, we had no preference in gender. Just like a biological child, whose gender you don’t get to pick, we were open to either a girl or a boy.
One night, as I was cooking dinner, an Operation Smile program came on. I found myself engrossed in the stories of children who received cleft lip/palate repairs through the organization, and the amazing work that was being done…I was in tears.
When April Xie, adoption coordinator for Holt China, met Seth for the first time, he greeted her warmly and without hesitation. Later during their visit, she showed interest in a game he was playing, and he taught her how to play — handing her the balls after she dropped them so that she could give it another try.
If Seth’s caregiver had to choose one word for Seth, she says it would be “energetic.” He loves to keep busy and can often be found running around on the playground. He also gets along well with the other kids at the orphanage.
Given his friendly response to April and his love for energetic play, it’s not surprising that Seth hopes for an adoptive family that includes a brother! Seth wants a companion to share his fun.
Seth had a cleft lip and palate, which have been surgically repaired. Otherwise he is a healthy, ten-year-old boy. He attends a public school near the orphanage. His grades may not be the best in the class, but he is an extremely observant, curious child with a knack for art. He was proud to show April a vivid drawing he made of the dragon boats he saw during a Chinese holiday. This drawing was not a homework assignment — Seth drew it for the joy of drawing. He was also very interested in April’s camera.
Seth needs someone to run and play and laugh with him. He needs someone to support him in his schoolwork and develop his potential for art. He needs someone who will love, accept and claim him. In short — Seth needs a family!
Jessica Zeeb | Child Match Coordinator, China Program
She could have been just a number. Just another kid in an orphanage. Just another kid with special needs.
When Holt matched Vivienne with her family three years ago, she was about to receive surgery for her cleft lip and palate — a common condition among children living in orphanage care in China. At the time, she was in care at Peace House, Holt’s medical foster home in Beijing.
“It was hard being so far away, wondering if all was well,” her mom, Catherine, reflects.
Seven-year-old Royce has watched many children go home to loving families. Now, one of these families is eager to help Royce find his own family. You can help too! Share his story today on social media and in your community!
Born: July 24, 2007, China
He totally stole my heart.
These are the words Holt adoptive mom Jenn Lawlin shared when asked about Royce — the sweet 7-year-old boy she met while adopting her son, Micah, from the same orphanage in China.
“I haven’t been able to get him off my mind!” she wrote in an email about Royce. “The brief amount of time I spent with him while we were at Micah’s farewell party at the orphanage gave me a peek at his personality… Here is what I can tell you: Royce loves cameras and kept trying to get me to take his photo. Then he wanted to look at the pictures I took. He was beside me even more than my son was!!”
Jenn’s son, Micah, says Royce is “one of his special friends from his China family.” Royce likes to ride bikes and would sometimes sit on the back of Micah’s bike while he rode him around.
On a recent trip, long-time supporters of the Peace House — Holt’s medical foster home in China — got the chance to visit this vital program for orphaned and abandoned children with special needs.
If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then seeing something in person must be worth a million! This became a reality for us in July when we had the chance to visit the Peace House in Beijing, China. Over the past three and a half years, we have been vested in this initiative, primarily through prayers and financial support. So when Holt invited us to travel to northeastern China to visit multiple Holt initiatives in the area — including Peace House — we enthusiastically accepted.
The mission of Peace House is to take in orphaned and abandoned children from across China who have various health conditions that can be surgically addressed, such as cleft lip and palate, club feet or heart issues, and nurture that child through three steps. First, the staff at Peace House works to ensure the child is healthy enough to go into surgery. Second, Holt facilitates the corrective procedure at a quality Beijing-area hospital. Finally, following the procedure, they nurse the child to good health. Once this is completed, the child returns to the orphanage or foster home where they came from. In most cases, these children will ultimately be placed in a loving home in China or the U.S.
A number of things impressed us during our visit. We were impressed that the care being provided by the staff is phenomenal. It also reinforced our belief that the children absolutely deserve a place in life where they can thrive and fulfill the plan that God intends for them. And while there are multitudes of children in China who need medical help, it was extremely fulfilling to help the 8-10 children who were at the home during our visit. We felt some natural anxiety as we entered the Beijing apartment that houses these children and their caregivers. Would this be what we expected it to be? Within minutes, it became abundantly clear that this was more than we could have imagined. We immediately “hit the floor” to hold and interact with these beautiful youngsters. After we passed the children’s scrutiny, they warmed to us and permitted us to hold, cuddle and play with them. At various times throughout our visit, our minds could not help but think, ‘Could we bring one of these precious kids home?’ : ) Continue reading “An Experience Worth a Million Words”
Born on June 18th, 2004, Josie was found wrapped in a yellow coat and taken to an orphanage. She suffered from cleft lip and palate and an umbilical cord infection.
After Josie recovered from the infection, she was observed for 2 months before being sent to live with a foster family. Through the love and support of this temporary family, Josie thrived. In 2005, Josie had surgery to repair her cleft lip, and 2 years later, another successful surgery to repair the cleft palate.
Today, at 11 years old, Josie has a vibrant, independent personality, loves to sing, and does so “with rich emotion,” according to her social workers. Josie grew up in a foster family with many young friends in the neighborhood and an older foster sister with whom she was very close. She even traveled 3 hours by bus on her own to see her sister who lived a different city. She likes cartoons, loves to draw and shares fairytales with the other children.
What’s most charming about Josie, though, is her kind heart, illustrated perfectly in this lovely story included in her file: One day on the playground, Josie’s friend stepped on an ant. This made Josie very sad. Josie ran to the teacher and said, “Teacher, I want to bring it home and give him treatment.” The teacher replied, “But if the ant was cured, it might bite you, then things will go bad.” Josie’s response to her teacher’s comment was endearing, to say the least. “He will not bite me, teacher,” Josie replied. “Because I treat him well, and he will treat me well also.”
While Josie has never been admitted to public school, she was home-schooled by her older foster sister and has completed the first grade curriculum. Josie was close with her foster family but they were no longer able to provide her with the social and educational support she needs. She is now attending some classes at the social welfare institution where she has been living for the past couple of months.
Paxton* has a special talent for language. By age 4, he could recite 20 “Tang poems,” written in the style of the Tang Dynasty. This earned him the title of “Young Recite Expert” in his class. In the first grade, he set the standard for himself when he scored 100 points on his literacy test. In the years since, he has continued to refine his language skills – learning English as well as his native Mandarin and Cantonese. In September, Paxton started the 6th grade. He continues to excel academically, scoring especially high marks in oral and written English.
Paxton’s natural talents are remarkable. But even more remarkable are the challenges he has had to overcome in order to fully express them.
When he was just 15 days old, Paxton was found abandoned near a gas station and sent to live at a state-run orphanage in southern China. Here, he has lived the first 11 years of his life – growing into a “brave and self-confident” boy. Although just one of many children growing up at the institute without a family to make him feel special and encourage him in school, he somehow found within himself the confidence and drive he needed to succeed. Continue reading “A Boy In Everyone’s Heart”